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Sunoco to halt drilling of Pipeline Project after State DEP enforces consent order and agreement

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DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will enforce a Consent Order and Agreement (COA) with Sunoco for violations associated with its Mariner East 2 Pipeline Project in two Chester County townships, the agency announced Tuesday.

On Friday, the DEP issued four Notices of Violation and an $87,600 fine for violations during construction of the project.

Sunoco’s horizontal directional drilling activities affected 14 homeowners in West Whiteland Township. Residents experienced adverse impacts to their private water supplies, according to the release.

“The corrective actions outlined in the COA are steps DEP is taking to hold Sunoco accountable and protect local residents,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP is conducting its own independent investigation of this pollution event and reserves the right to assess further enforcement, as appropriate.”

The consent order also halts drilling by Sunoco until requirements in the area have been met. The COA adds that Sunoco must identify and provide a list of all homeowners with private water supplies within 150 feet of the impacted area.

State law does not regulate drinking water wells or require them to be registered.

“DEP continues to be diligent in our oversight of this project,” said McDonnell. “To impact a person’s private drinking water is inexcusable, and we intend to hold this operator accountable to the fullest extent.”

The release adds that Sunoco must also adhere to seven other corrective actions outlined in the COA, including:

  • Must have written authorization to resume HDD in the impacted area from DEP, which will not be granted until the department is confident Sunoco is meeting the ordered corrective actions;
  • Notification to the townships and private well owners within 150 feet of the drilling area at least 24 hours prior to resuming any HDD activities;
  • Must submit a Water Supply Restoration Plan within 10 days that provides for an alternate source of potable water, which must be approved by DEP;
  • Must conduct a hydrogeological investigation of the identified aquifer(s) to determine what caused the impacts to the private wells.

DEP included special conditions related to private drinking water wells that go beyond existing state law requirements.

The permits are among the most stringent DEP has ever issued for this type of construction activity related to protection of private drinking water wells.

An incident list related to construction of the Pipeline Project will be updated weekly and can be found here.